Creating New Perspectives
Photography has its origins in depicting the world around us, capturing images that replicate what the eyes could see. Since its rudimentary origins, photography could freeze moments and, by doing so, could ultimately create new perspectives. This ability to create a new vision for the world expanded the possibilities of the medium and its capacity for innovation and creativity. As a result, it opened doors to artists who wanted to work in the realm of photography. In our current age, the world has embraced the discipline as an art form, a vehicle like painting or sculpture, used to transmit ideas and initiate dialogue.
A Moment of Respite
Brazilian-German artist based in the UK André Lichtenberg is a photographer who uses the medium to explore new perspectives through ideas of time, location, and space. In his series titled, Impossible Utopias, Lichtenberg aims to create not merely a photograph but a moment of respite. Likewise, with this series, the viewer can stop to see the image but also pause to contemplate the vast landscape. Thus, Lichtenberg provides meditative moments, opening the viewer to the great extent of the imagination and the potent, transcendent interrelation between humankind and the planet.
“Photographs of landscapes, urban developments, and ancient sites not only expanded the medium’s range, they helped define photography and differentiate it from painting. Photographers often included “point de vue” or “view” in the titles of scenic works, suggesting the image consisted of what would be seen by a person standing exactly where the camera was placed.” – Mary Warner Marien, 100 Ideas that Changed Photography.
The Early Years
André Lichtenberg was born in the south of Brazil to a mixed European background. As a child, he grew up in the expansive urban architecture of Porto Alegre and traveled extensively with his family. Therefore, the many travels influenced his upbringing. He recalls visiting the seaside and the hilly countryside full of landscapes that ultimately remained ingrained in his vision. During the excursions, his father would draw romantic European scenes by these rural landscapes. This influenced the young André to make his own drawings. Lichtenberg recalls creating architectural drawings,
“I used to draw buildings and cityscapes from a bird’s eye viewpoint. As if I were on the rooftop of a very tall building or complex motorway junctions as seen from a helicopter. All very unusual, when I think about it, as at that point I’d never been on an airplane or on a skyscraper rooftop. There was a sense of precision in those pictures. An almost mathematical precision. Math was one of my favorite subjects in school.” – André Lichtenberg.
Civil Engineering and Photography
Lichtenberg proceeded to study Civil Engineering and later received degrees in the photographic arts and sciences. Consequently, this mixture of precise, mathematical thinking and the exploratory nature of art helped develop Lichtenberg’s aesthetic. He created a captivating art practice. Lichtenberg’s concerns with the metaphysical aspects within a photograph, like the notions of time and space, and the use of long exposures, extend the potential within the picture to depict a moment.
“Since 2016, I made it my personal mission to go out and meditate by the sea (on full moon nights) and reflect under the stars. Each seascape in this series is captured over several continuous photographs in the space of over one hour in time. The scene is photographed in small detail using a sort of mental grid. It’s a methodical process which allows me to slow down, to reflect, to adjust my focus in the dark, and gently absorb the landscape in a meditative way. I wanted to create large-scale representations of the border that recorded and evoked more than could be achieved by a single photograph – impossible representations, in fact.
The project is poetical, methodical, and inquisitive in nature. It plays with a fragmented passage of time, it explores a form of representation that flirts between photography and painting, it depicts beautiful seascapes rich in texture and painterly details yet with a nostalgic feel – surreal oceanic scenes that could hold thousands of memories of untold stories.” – André Lichtenberg.
Looking Beyond the English Channel
For Impossible Utopias, André Lichtenberg looks beyond the English Channel. As a European citizen living in England, with a family history of migration, the artist ponders the night sky. Moreover, he explores the strong visual presence of the seascape, mired thick with history, that is in front of him. Lichtenberg uses the elements of the moonlight, the stars, and the sea in his series and explores their visual qualities. These elements, the stars and the moon, interests the photographer greatly. The stars and moon were used historically for centuries to navigate the world by our ancient ancestors. The separation created by the English Channel from the rest of Europe also dwells deep in the photographer’s imagination. Above all, by reflecting on the distance and calming beauty of the landscape, Lichtenberg creates images that generate a notion of tranquility.
Reaching New Horizons
Perhaps the Impressionist painters of the past influence Lichtenberg. With work whose aim to capture the passing of time presented the melancholy and poetry of memento mori. That beauty and life are fleeting and transient. Or perhaps, influenced by his family history, the artist ponders the sea and sky with his camera. As Lichtenberg’s grandparents migrated from Germany to South America in search of new horizons. Possibly aiming to capture the same wondrous vision that his relatives saw generations before him. In the end, following the stars like our ancestors, we can hope that his photography reaches new horizons and perspectives. Ultimately, Lichtenberg can inspire the viewer to meditate and look for the ideal beauty, a utopia, outside and within.
“My aim as an artist is to offer the viewer a calming canvas for reflection. A moment of pause to hopefully inspire and entice debate on important current issues, such as global warming, the oceans, migration, borders, inclusion and sustainability. In my view, everything is connected. The project also hopes to inspire a new relationship with the planet, to promote a more humble view of our world that engenders a caring response to all species and the environment, whilst moving away from the dangerous idea of human exceptionalism.” – André Lichtenberg.